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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
Confronting the HIV Pandemic
Nathanson, Neal; Auerbach, Judith D.
June 10, 1999
Science (06/04/99) No. 5420, Vol. 284, P. 1619

In an editorial, Neal Nathanson and Judith D. Auerbach, of the Office of AIDS Research at the National Institutes of Health, discuss NIH's new HIV prevention research program. The program is a multidisciplinary approach, combining behavioral science, social science, and biological methods, to fight the spread of HIV. Researchers are prioritizing development of microbicides for women, international prevention research, interventions which are culturally and ethnically appropriate, validation of prevention measures, and study of ethical concerns regarding research and prevention programs. The new research program is deemed of paramount importance because AIDS has surpassed malaria and tuberculosis as the world's leading infectious killer. Furthermore, prevention has proven very effective, reducing annual incidence of HIV infection to less 5 percent in some groups of gay men in the United States. Needle-exchange programs have cut HIV transmission among intravenous drug users by more than 30 percent in some places. Behavioral strategies have cut infection rates by up to 50 percent in developing countries like Uganda, Thailand, and Senegal, and blood screening technology has reduced the transmission of HIV through bad blood by 99.9 percent in the United States. The use of antiretroviral regimens has cut perinatal transmission of HIV by up to 90 percent in optimal settings. Successful behavioral strategies, as well as cutting-edge biomedical technologies, are necessary to curb the spread of HIV, the authors conclude.